Our Spiti Peregrination !!

Kartik Berry

New Member
Date of commencement: 28th May 2016
Date of completion: 8th June 2016
Riders: Amit Chauhan, Varun Choudhary, Kashish Khanna, Kartik Berry
New Delhi - Chandigarh - Shimla -Sarahan - Sangla - Kalpa - Nako - Gue Village - Tabo - Dhankar - Kaza - Kibber - Losar - Kunzum La - Gramphu - Rohtang La - Manali - Chandigarh - New Delhi
It had been 2 years since our trip to Ladakh. Someone mentioned Spiti Valley, so I looked it up. It is an untouched region in the mountains with very few roads, and parts of it are very close to China. I called anyone who might be interested, and eventually we were a group of 4 with 4 bikes and 2 GoPro cameras. We all met up at Delhi, ready to go. We started from Varun’s home in Rohini at 5:30 in the evening. At 42° C with our biker jackets on, we were all drenched with our own sweat. As soon as we entered Ambala the temperature suddenly dropped to 20o, with a dust storm followed by heavy rains. Cold, tired and drenched, we spent the night at Zirakpur.
The following morning was sunny. We started out at 9 am, crossing the beautiful Himalayan expressway via Kalka and Solan as we headed toward Shimla. When you enter Shimla, the view is breathtaking. The fresh air and amazing architecture adds to the serenity. We made our way to Kufri after getting stuck in a 3 km long traffic jam, then stopped at Fagu for lunch. Amit mounted his GoPro camera on his helmet as we left Fagu, which was amusing to all the locals we passed. By 7 pm we reached Rampur Bushahr. We spent the night at the first hotel we found, which was amazing because we were served chilled beer and Old Monk at just 20 bucks a peg!
As we continued along Rampur, we had our cameras mounted on our helmets. The locals saw us as alien creatures because of the way we dressed and of course, the cameras. People came running to us saying stuff like “Kya hum aapke camera me aayenge? Humari bhi photo lo!” Our next stop was the Bhimkali Temple in Sarahan. I had never seen a temple like it before; its design detail was so intricate, with all the wooden work done. The tiny ladders we climbed inside were so narrow that one literally had to compress himself to go up.
We then headed on to Sangla. The roads till Karcham were rocky till we managed to enter Sangla Valley. And suddenly we were surrounded by beautiful snow-clad mountains. We were mesmerized and stopped there for some time just to feel the calmness and serenity of the place. We sat there in the open for some time, gazing at the snow from the mountains forming into clouds. We made our stop at Rakcham village and the only hotel in the valley was full, but a local we met was gracious enough to give us shelter, phasur (the local liquor) and a lovely dinner.
The next day we headed on to Chitkul, the last Indian village in that area. It was a beautiful place with friendly locals, a place you’d consider retiring to. We crossed Chitkul, Rakcham and Sangla, then moved on to Karcham to march towards ReckongPeo which happens to be the HQ of Kinnaur. As we went on we reached kalpa, a small, old town above ReckongPeo from where we could see the entire Kinner Kailash Range.
The most dangerous part of the trip was when we reached “the world’s most treacherous road”. We could see the Border Roads Organization team bombing the mountains to make way and widen the roads. Since the roads in this region are rocky and very fragile one needs to be very careful while driving. We had planned our stay at Dubling just 6 km after Pooh, but when we reached there was nothing to see there. So even though it was getting dark and the roads were risky, we headed out to Nako, 34 km ahead of us, and luckily, reached there by nightfall.
When we woke up the next morning, we visited Nako Monastery and the Nako Lake, clicked a few pictures and pushed off. For so long, we were in Kinnaur and had not yet entered Spiti Valley. When we started out journey we were aware that the road from Kunzum-La till Batal was not open and we might have to turn back. The success of an entire journey depended on whether the road was open or not.

The date was 1st June. Having come all the way from Delhi to the edge of the Kinnaur district, we were about to enter Spiti and at the road which led from Kunzum La to Batal, but hadn’t checked whether the road was open yet. It would be a shame to have come so far and not reach our destination.
When we enquired we were told that the road had been opened today itself! We were overjoyed. Imagine if we had been too efficient and reached a day early! Good thing we didn’t.
Our next stop was a detour, a small place called the Gue Village, with only 70 people. The purpose of visiting the village was to see a mummy that the Indian army had excavated. What was amazing was that the mummy still had remains of hair, teeth and nails. After spending time with the locals and the children, we headed on to Tabo. Tabo has one of India’s oldest monasteries, which is also called the Ajanta and Ellora of the Himalayas because of its old paintings.
We then moved on toward Dhankar, where we spent the night in a spare room of the Dhankar Monastery. This monastery is also a very old monastery and requires special care because of its construction pattern. The dinner was amazing, and the room was cosy. Compared to Nako and Rakcham, this stay was super luxurious.
After a few more stops, we reached Kaza, the HQ of Spiti and one of our major stays during the entire trip. As soon as we enter Kaza, we saw a board which read “Zostel”. Zostel is a group of backpackers’ hostels. We had already used their Goa branch, and loved it. Since the Zostel wasn’t officially open, they gave us a tent to stay in. Once we were comfortable enough there we roamed around Kaza, took a stroll in the market and then decided to visit the villages around that place. The 4 of us headed uphill, on just 2 bikes, to a village called Langza, aka the Fossil village. The village has a huge Buddha statue which can be spotted from far away. Next, we rode on toward Komic village, which is the highest habituated village in the world with a road. Finally we headed back to the Kaza market. We stood in a queue for a while to use a phone to call my parents, and then found ourselves at a café which was owned and run by “The Spiti Ecosphere” called “the Taste of Spiti”. It was a nice warm welcoming café and had a special tea called the “Seabuckthorn tea”. That night, we slept out in the open in the Zostel setup, under a blanket of stars.
The next morning we started our day by first visiting the monastery in Kaza and then went ahead to the see the biggest monastery of the entire Spiti region, The Kye Monastery. One of the monks there gave us a tour of this fabulous sanctuary and told us stories about their Gods and relics, and life in the monastery. After this we headed to two more villages, Kibber and Tashigang, before returning to Kaza. That night Varun and I tried taking pictures of the Milky Way, clearly visible at night. The next day we bid adieu to Zostel, and to Kaza.
On our way back tragedy struck! After crossing Batal coming back, there were frequent streams of flowing water, some at pretty high speeds. At one point I saw my co riders stop at a point where the flow was very strong. I ventured in without thinking, and in 50 metres I lost control of my bike and fell into the ice cold water. Within half a second, my hands and feet were frozen. Somehow I managed to drive on to the other side and wait for the others. They joined me slowly, all of us with frozen feet after crossing the river. We mustered our last bit of strength and drove 5kms ahead, to a HP PWD rest house. We spent the night there, and the caretaker gave us quilts, tea and dinner.
The next morning, we headed up straight to Manali and spent an evening there just to relax. Marking our way back to Chandigarh as we reached near Ropar, Amit’s bike got a flat. The mechanic refused to help us even after we told him all about our struggles, stating he was drunk. We decided to fix it ourselves, but seeing us struggle the mechanic helped us. Our last night was spent in an average hotel Chandigarh, before we finally saw Delhi again the next day.



Super User
Short and crisp travelogue, please do add more pics specially from Kaza towards Manali and also mention the pic location for readers for reference.
We the people been to Spiti can recognise the pic locations but other won't be able to do that.